23 Times Science Went Terribly, Terribly Wrong

Cheetah poop, pee, and gluing yourself to a crocodile are just some of the hazards of a #fieldworkfail.

When scientists step out of the safety of a lab, anything can happen. Here are some of the funniest #fieldworkfail stories that researchers are sharing on Twitter.

Outside of a controlled environment, things can get a little messy.

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Spilled dirty ethanol & clove oil down front of wetsuit. Had 2 pretend I wasn't getting chemical burns while talking to crew #fieldworkfail

— Dr. Wrasse (@labroides)

It’s easy to be distracted when there’s so much going on around you.

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Skillfully applied thousand dollar satellite tag to manta ray. The same manta ray I tagged yesterday #fieldworkfail

— Dr. Alistair Dove (@AlistairDove)
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Caught in thunderstorm, ditched metal auger to be safe. When I got back remembered I was wearing GPS backpack with 3m aerial. #fieldworkfail

— Frank Swain (@SciencePunk)
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Thinking you are alone having a peaceful pee, only to straighten up and find cars full of tourists looking at you. #fieldworkfail

— Anne Hilborn (@AnneWHilborn)
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Leave mess tent not wearing my glasses, wonder where the brown tent came from & why it's moving. Opposite of Bear Aware. #fieldworkfail

— Lisa Buckley (@ShamanSciences)

Occasionally there are some technical difficulties.

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I thought I was deleting just 1 picture from the digital camera. Nope. Erased. All. The. Pictures #fieldworkfail

— Jessica Light (@je_light)
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For 20% of my camera traps, this was their fate: death by elephant #fieldworkfail

— Aditya Gangadharan (@AdityaGangadh)

And your vehicle sacrifices itself for the sake of science.

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On the first day of field work for my MS thesis, my car got stuck on some train tracks and yes, got hit by a train. #FieldWorkFail

— David Steen, Ph.D. (@AlongsideWild)
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Sank the boat in the middle of a crocodile survey. Twice. #fieldworkfail

— Agata Staniewicz (@AgataStaniewicz)
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When you lose any entire wheel on drive. I mean an entire wheel. #fieldworkfail

— Katherine Orrick (@KaggleRock)

Other times, things might elude you.

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A lizard that had eluded capture for weeks jumped on my head and ran down the entire length of me. I still couldn't catch it. #fieldworkfail

— Ambika Kamath (@ambikamath)
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Spent 15 min. in W. Texas trying to identify rodent in live trap. Field guide failed to help. It was a Hamster. #fieldworkfail

— Corey Welch (@CoreyWelch_STEM)
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While tracking large alligator, remarked to colleagues, "Wow, these tracks look really fresh!" Looked up. "Oh, there it is." #fieldworkfail

— Anthony J. Martin (@Ichnologist)

Just do your best to avoid sticky situations.

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Accidentally glued myself to a crocodile while attaching a radio transmitter. #fieldworkfail

— Agata Staniewicz (@AgataStaniewicz)
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Not a crocodile but I accidentally glued myself to a very angry crab. #fieldworkfail #Igluedmyself @AgataStaniewicz

— P. Sean McDonald (@pseanmc)

And always do the best with what you’ve got.

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Forgot to bring enough seasickness meds to Tarawa. Attempt to purchase locally w/ gestures led to a corset & pregnancy test #fieldworkfail

— Jessica Carilli (@jess_carilli)
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Having to 'ride' the model #shark to the sea floor because it's just too buoyant #fieldworkfail

— Lauren Fear (@LaurenFear)
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Muskox fell into our excavation block, destroyed our walls and peed everywhere. Muskox fine, stinky digging, however #fieldworkfail

— ArcticArchaeology (@cmdarwent)

When in doubt, laugh and take a picture.

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Finding out the ground was not as stable as appeared #Askja #Fieldworkfail camerawoman took pic instead of helping

— Alison Graettinger (@AlisonGraetting)

Or just terrify some children.

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Released a goldfinch "Mr flappy" that was immediately captured by a falcon in front of 24 horrified middle school girls #fieldworkfail

— Jeff Stratford (@JeffAStratford)

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